In response to customer complaints and instances of violent confrontations, Target has announced adjustments to its Pride displays in certain stores located in the South. The decision comes after threats were made against the safety and well-being of Target’s team members. The retail giant stated that it is taking measures to ensure a secure environment, including the removal of items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontations.
Anti-LGBTQ+ conservatives have been recording their visits to Target stores since the introduction of this year’s Pride collection, either to criticize specific items or to harass employees regarding the displays. Stores in South Carolina, Arkansas, and Georgia have reportedly relocated their Pride displays to the back of the stores and removed Pride apparel from mannequins to minimize visibility.
Despite the fact that Target’s Pride items primarily feature designs from LGBTQ+ creators, showcasing rainbows and cartoons on t-shirts, socks, athletic items, and household products with LGBTQ+-affirming messages, certain individuals have accused the retailer of “grooming and indoctrinating children” through the sale of these items.
Concerns over team member safety prompted Target to conduct “emergency” calls with company leaders and their Asset Protect & Corporate Security team. According to an unnamed Target employee, discussions were held on how to address the issue. The employee further shared that this year’s customer outrage has far exceeded that of previous years, leading some managers and district senior directors to swiftly scale down the Pride sections.
As part of the adjustments, the Pride collection will be moved from the front of the store to a smaller section in the back, with restrictions on mannequins and large signage. Target has not disclosed which specific items will be removed from the collection, but conservative groups have voiced concerns about an adult women’s swimsuit, mistakenly believed to be children’s wear, and an adult shirt featuring non-explicit naked figures. Additionally, some items designed by Abprallen, a London-based company that sells occult- and Satanic-themed products (although not included in Target’s Pride collection), have drawn criticism.
In response to the controversy and customer backlash, Target expressed its commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and pledged to stand with them throughout Pride Month and beyond. The retailer aims to move forward, emphasizing its dedication to inclusivity and celebrating diversity.